I see silver trays and platters at thrift stores and estate sales all the time, but lately I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for one that’s a little bit larger than average, with ornate handles for dramatic effect. Like this:
So pretty, right? In my kitchen the stove is directly across from the only window in the room, so I think that a large silver platter hung there would be perfect to reflect light and add a little glam. Isn’t that spot just calling out for something?
I’ve been hunting for several weeks and haven’t found one yet! I did bring home one tray, but it didn’t have handles and was just not glamorous enough. I’m looking for something 18″-24″ wide so that rules out eBay and Etsy (the shipping would be pretty high). I think I need to stop being so lazy on weekend mornings and step up my estate sale game! If you’re local and see something like this give me a holler.
How was your weekend, my lovelies? Mine flew by. I barely left the house, which is how I like it. We ate lunch and dinner on the back deck on Saturday–I am really loving the patio umbrella I bought rather impulsively last year. I got a few things done, too. Nothing lifechanging, but I will have a few things to share this week! Have a good one, yall.
I am seriously into estate sales. They are so much better than either garage sales or thrift stores. If you are as thrifty and as into cool, old things as I am then estate sales are like the mac daddy of shopping excursions. But I feel like people are intimidated by them. They don’t know how to find out about them, or they’re nervous about the idea of shopping inside someone’s house, or maybe the idea of picking through a deceased person’s belongings freaks them out. Have no fear. I’m going to assuage all of your concerns.
First up, I signed up for emails ages ago on estatesales.net (they don’t know me and this is not a sponsored post, though I wish it was!). The folks who put on estate sales (usually private companies who specialize in just that) list them with estatesales.net and every week I get an email letting me know about the sales going on in my area. For many of them I can even click through to the website to view details and photos. Looking at the photos and location definitely helps me get an idea of whether a sale is worth my time. If it’s full of fancy antiques then chances are most everything will be too rich for my blood. And if the sale is in a very new neighborhood or in a condo then it’s pretty unlikely that there will be a large selection of vintage whatnots as the deceased probably already downsized when moving to that home. I wasn’t so sure about heading to this particular sale as it was held in a giant house on the LSU lakes and I worried it would be too fancy, but my friend Cassie scoped it out the day before and let me know that there was plenty of good stuff. The sofa below was only $250, marked down an additional 50% off because it was the last day of the sale. $125 for an antique sofa? I mean come on. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Which brings me to my next tip: sales usually last 2-4 days. If you’re looking for something specific, go early on the first day. If you’re looking for bargains, go early on the last day. For a three day sale items are usually full price on the first day, 25% off on the second day, and 50% off on the third day. And if love of sleep has kept you out of the garage sale circuit then you can breathe a sigh of relief: “early” for an estate sale means 9am at the very earliest. Sometimes they don’t even open until noon! You can check the times for the sale you’re attending on estatesales.net.
The mid-century modern chest of drawers above was marked $325. Since I was there on the last day I could have snagged it for about $160. And this huge ottoman below was only $40 ($20 sale price). I was very, very tempted to bring it home and reupholster it, but I was there to shop for etsy inventory so I kept walking.
The third question I hear often is twofold: isn’t it weird to be inside a stranger’s house/isn’t it weird to pick through a deceased person’s belongings? These are legitimate questions, but in all honesty it’s just not like that. Usually the family has already taken everything that’s meaningful to them, then the professionals come in and remove any remaining personal items before sorting and pricing everything. The furniture is rearranged to best display the items for sale, so instead of a bedroom you’re now standing in a room lined with folding tables covered in fabulous treasures. I went to an estate sale once that was not run very professionally–there were personal items still out (photographs on the walls, take-out menus on the fridge, etc.) and the staff were all sitting in the living room hanging out. It felt like we were intruding. The vast majority of sales are not like that.
There’s usually a table set up near the exit with folks working as cashiers and the more organized companies even have bins set up near the checkout where you can place your selections as you continue shopping. If you’ve got your arms full a staff member may even offer to take your items to a bin for you while you shop! There are usually newspapers and plastic bags at the checkout for you to wrap up fragile items. If they’re busy there may be a staff member wrapping items to keep the line moving, but you should be prepared to wrap them up yourself otherwise. Also, if you want to buy something that’s too big to carry just grab the tag and bring it with you to the checkout. You can usually arrange to come back and pick it up later if you don’t have a way to get it out right then. For most sales you will need to provide your own labor for moving heavy items, so recruit a couple of strong helpers if you’re in the market for a china cabinet.
At this particular sale I was looking only for small items I can sell in my etsy shop. I came away with twelve small plates, a pair of pink depression glass soup bowls, and two silver plated serving dishes. Total: $48. That means I can list everything in my etsy shop at a reasonable price and still turn a profit. Everybody wins! But if you, like me, prefer the thrill of the hunt then definitely check out an estate sale in your town sometime. If you start attending them regularly you’ll get a feel for which companies and neighborhoods you prefer (in BR I love Mitchell Weeks sales and houses in the garden district/mid-city tend to have the coolest stuff). Thanks for reading, and if you’ve been nervous about checking out estate sales in the past I hope you’re now feeling more confident!
So two things happened recently to inspire this latest project. A) two commenters on this post reminded me that thrift stores are an excellent source for frames, and B) I read this post on another blog about using looking glass spray paint to create an antiqued-looking mirrored surface. The very day that this idea took hold in my heart I ran out to the Goodwill and picked up this beautiful work of art for only $12.99. I’ll admit that the art itself is not exactly my style–the frame is what I was looking for.
Once I’d purchased my frame, I skipped next door to Hobby Lobby (how lucky am I that they are in the same shopping center?) and picked up a can of looking glass spray paint. It was only $7.19 after using a coupon via HL’s iPhone app.
I pulled the backing and print out of the frame and brought it outside to lay face down on some protective paper. I was going to remove the glass from the frame, but I had a hard time getting it out so I decided to just leave it. I was also going to peel the price stickers off the front of the glass but by this point I was already outside and it was hot as balls so I decided to just deal with them later.
Following the instructions I’d read online, I spritzed the back of the glass with a generous mist of a vinegar + water mixture and then sprayed on a coat of the looking glass paint.
After waiting a few moments for it to dry a bit I wiped with a paper towel, leaving an intentionally spotty and uneven application behind.
Then I just kept building up in layers–spritz, spray, wait, wipe, repeat.
It was taking more coats than I’d anticipated to build up to what I wanted with this technique so I eventually just went for it and skipped the vinegar step so I could get full coverage. I had to go back to Hobby Lobby for another can of spray paint but since it was a different transaction I could use another coupon (total spent on spray paint = $14.38). When the glass was finally no longer see through I replaced the backing and used a heavy-duty picture hanging kit ($4 from Target and came with way more supplies than I needed) to mount it centered above the small sewing table in our dining room. This is one of the darker rooms in our house so the mirror is really nice to bounce some light around, plus I like having a spot to quickly slap on some makeup or check my outfit (if you think it would probably be easier to just step into the bathroom you have never lived with a toddler. Jack is really into toilets lately so bathroom doors stay closed at all times).
I like how the surface has that hazy, spotty look that you find in really old mirrors and at the same time is still reflective enough to be somewhat useful. That’s exactly what I was going for. Please excuse the shameless selfie. I was having a good hair day.
The wood tone on the frame is actually a thin veneer that’s peeling off in spots so I may strip and paint it down the line, but for now I’m leaving it be. I’m just so stoked that for under $30 and really very little time/effort I could get such a large, cool looking mirror. I feel like it’s the kind of thing that Anthropologie or Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware would sell for like a million dollars.
Thanks for reading, y’all, and I hope your week is off to a great start! Nick and I are having a date day today–lunch and a movie with no babies allowed. So luxurious!
Check out this handsome little number I picked up from craigslist on Friday. It was only $40. A label on the underside indicates that it was made by the Alma Desk Company in North Carolina, I’m guessing in the late 60′s.
When I first got it home I was disappointed because it’s a little bit taller than the other chair, even in the seat. I’d been hoping for a pair that was mismatched but of similar proportions and the slight size discrepancy was bugging me.
But the longer I look at it I feel like they’re the perfect couple–one is tall, dark, and handsome and the other is short and curvy (sort of reminds me of another couple I know. If only the tall one was talking incessantly about sports it’d be uncanny.).
Our DVR has been pretty boring lately so Nick and I have been playing card games a lot in the evenings. The little tilt-out drawer in the sewing table holds a couple of decks of cards and a small notebook and pen for keeping score. When I eventually find a lidded basket or storage ottoman to slide underneath I figure I can use it to store board games and the like. We usually sit at the dining table for that sort of thing so it’s really convenient. We even tried sitting over here to play rummy one night but it was awkward. I do sit here to watch Jack play though. It’s way more comfy than the dining chairs.
Our dining room is a little oversized and oddly shaped and also serves as a hallway of sorts so it’s nice to finally figure out some sort of identity for this spot that doesn’t take up as much room as the old couch-and-coffee-table setup did. I think this spot will be great for entertaining–we don’t host parties very often but I do prefer to have plenty of seating available when we do, and since our kitchen is not really big enough for a crowd it’s nice to have extra surfaces available in the dining room. This little sewing table would be just perfect for serving up drinks.
I hung a big mirror on the wall yesterday and it looks so great–more on that tomorrow–and when I get around to it I may put up some old family photos that I’ve been collecting for months. I’m eyeing this ottoman from Target to slip under the table. I am so excited for how it’s going to look all put together–I wish I had a wide angle lens so you could get a feel for the whole room.
I hope you each had a wonderful weekend. Ours was pretty great and the icing on the cake is that Nick has this whole week off from work! I spy lots of family time in our future.